Los Campesinos! (LC!) is one of those bands that attracts rabid fans yet remains a hidden gem in the world of indie rock. Their live shows are insanely energetic and their albums are always consistent, an impressive feat considering the many line-up changes the band has experienced over the years. No Blues, released Oct. 29, is the fifth studio album from the Welsh band, and it definitely has this rabid fan hooked. Following up the gut-wrenching break-up album Hello Sadness, No Blues is slightly more cheerful and definitely more musically upbeat. It showcases a more mature LC!, while still retaining all the snarky, smart lyrics that LC! fans have come to expect. Long-time fans will understand the progression from the hand-clapping, glockenspiel-heavy, twee sound of their full-length debut Hold On Now, Youngster… No Blues is a culmination for a band that has slowly stripped down and subdued its sound to create something distinct and impactful.
In today’s age of MP3s, streaming websites and online radio, people, myself included, rarely purchase music anymore. I always, however, make a point of buying LC! albums simply to have a copy of the lyrics while I listen. Having the lyrics sheet allows fans to appreciate frontman and lyricist Gareth Campesinos! (all the band members refer to themselves by the last name Campesinos!) for the genius he is. Honestly, he has some of the best phrasing in all of indie rock. Pitchfork has been streaming the album for the last few weeks, and even though I have been listening to it almost incessantly, I still will not feel like I have absorbed it until I get the hard copy and really look at the lyrics.
No Blues is incredibly strong, but a few tracks stood out to me in particular. The first single, “What Death Leaves Behind Me” is a soaring, perfectly crafted and quintessentially LC! track. “Glue Me” has a spectacular chorus: “I’ll be gloomy till they glue me in the arms in she who loves me.” “Avocado, Baby” is just as fun and absurd as the name indicates. As the track titles suggest, LC! has a tendency toward the morbid, but it combines those morbid, pun-heavy lyrics with upbeat, soaring pop to create something that feels tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic.